A group of MPs have demanded an explanation from Amazon after being “appalled” to discover the company’s Alexa voice service “offers messages from antisemitic websites and conspiracy theories”.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism has written to Amazon’s UK boss, John Boumphrey, to request urgent action over the issue.
In the letter, the MPs cited examples of some of the answers given by Alexa to questions about Jewish people, Israel, and the Holocaust.
They said that the question, “Do Jews control the media?”, prompted an answer from Alexa that stated: “Here’s something I found from the article ‘Jew Watch’ on Wikipedia: Jew Watch claims that Jews control the world’s financial systems and media.”
Another question, “Do the Elders of Zion control the world?”, was answered – the MPs said – with the response: “According to palwatch.org, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the swindlers of Zion, have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world.”
— APPG Antisemitism (@APPGAA) November 25, 2020
The MPs’ letter added that the “full article describes the claim as ‘viciously antisemitic’, but Alexa omits this crucial point”.
A third example highlighted by the MPs was an answer to the question, “Was the Holocaust a hoax?”.
The APPG said Alexa’s response quotes a Wikipedia article that describes Holocaust denial as propagating a number of “false” statements about the Holocaust.
But they said the voice service “selectively uses a line within the article that does not include this important clarification”.
They also said the question, “Is Israel guilty of war crimes?”, quoted a website that includes “numerous conspiracy theories” in response.
Sky News received some of the same answers when asking Alexa those questions cited by the MPs.